We Remember

RICH, Michael M.

August 17, 1932 — January 10, 2022

Born in Portugal, Mike moved to England at age 7 when the war began and was raised by his grandparents in Cornwall. He attended private school near the family home in Torquay, GB, later graduating as a Civil Engineer from London University and Southampton Technical College. He met the love of his life, Joan Howell, on summer holidays in Spain, and they married in 1955. Their sense of adventure led them to emigrate to Canada in 1956 with their daughter Caroline, and to settle in the Vancouver, BC area. Here Mike first began working as design supervisor for BC Electric – Gas Division, and then for Ingledow Kidd & Associates during the early 1960s, as a Design Engineer.

During these years, Mike and Joan had 3 more children, Phil, Sue, and Justin. The family enjoyed the British Columbia great outdoors, skiing, picnicking, sailing and hiking. From 1966 to 1973, Mike moved his family to Toronto, ON and worked for Basic Resources International. He travelled extensively around the world with development and mining projects… from Chile, Guatemala and Peru to Ceylon, Germany and Yugoslavia.

Always maintaining their love for the West Coast, Joan and Mike returned to Vancouver in 1973 where Mike was employed by BC Hydro. Consistent, experienced, and extremely hard-working, in 1988 he was promoted to Vice President of Marketing and later, in 1993, Executive Vice President of Operations for BC Gas, a role he fulfilled until he retired in September 1996.

Soon after, Mike and Joan bought their waterfront retirement home on Vancouver Island, where they developed an awe-inspiring garden in Nanoose Bay, and had the pleasure of being surrounded by all the interactions of wild and marine life that the West Coast offered. They were avid supporters of Milner Gardens and the Mount Arrowsmith Rhododendron Society. They enjoyed sport fishing with friends and family, and Mike had great times golfing with other locals. He spent countless happy hours in his workshop, creating and repairing and constructing. He had learned to play the piano as a child, and this became a great source of joy in his elder years. He also cherished a love for the accordion, a special retirement gift from Joan. He could be heard playing his trademark bouncy tunes every evening.

For 24 years, Mike and Joan led a life rich with rhododendrons, world travels, plenty of laughter and an expanding family of grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Sadly, after 65 years of marriage, his beloved Joan passed in 2020, so Mike moved to West Kelowna, BC to be closer to Caroline’s family. Here he was in awe of the beautiful scenery. He liked to go for drives, he indulged his piano skills, his chocolate and ice cream passions, and fell in love with his granddaughter’s little chihuahua.

In mid-December, he was admitted to Kelowna General Hospital, followed quickly by Hospice House. Every day he expressed his gratitude for the beautiful care of so many nurses and doctors with their kindness and skill. He often remarked that he had lived a wonderful life, and felt completely ready to follow his wife. On January 10, 2022, he passed peacefully to the realm of light.

Mike leaves behind his four children: Caroline, Phil, Sue (Bruce), and Justin (Nancy) and six grandchildren: Mike, Desiree, Jacqui (Mike), Jasmine (Nathan), Anna, and Siobhan (Sam). He also leaves five great-grandchildren: Ari, Ellie, Logan, Vienna and Luna; as well as five younger siblings in England and Spain: Fred, Edward, Sandy, Lito and Josephine; two cousins: Mary and Johnnie; his niece Kyra; and all their extended families. We are all saddened to lose our father, brother, grandpa and great-grandpa… but feel certain that his longed-for journey is a happy one.

A private family commemoration will be held in February.

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